MountainStar Health - December 21, 2020
by Jennifer James


As this month is now upon us, I look back over this unprecedented year, and am thankful for so much, mainly that I am alive and employed. What have we learned? Listen to the experts. Be grateful and cherish our very lives, because 2.5 million of us no longer have one. Roll with the punches. We can go a lot further when he help each other. And finally, to get over ourselves, and our rigid mindsets. Which, in my opinion, can be everyone’s gift to the world this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and New Year’s Day. Peace out, (and peace in) my friends.

In good health,
Jennifer James

Success Story

My hope is that many of you will read this and continue to work on losing weight. Slow and steady wins the race.

L.E. writes…

“I am about to accomplish a major goal along my weight loss journey and am excited to share my experience. When I meet my weight loss goal for December, I will be at a lower weight than I have been in the last 14-18 years.

I have met with Jennifer in a small group or on my own over the past few months. We have been able to discover some interesting ideas and techniques for losing weight that I hadn’t considered. The first thing that really hit home was my motivation for eating. It was anything but hunger. One week I made a note of seven or eight reasons I had eaten and not one of them was hunger. So, I started making a goal to just eat when I was hungry. Keeping it simple has really worked for me. I have been successful just doing this simple thing.

The second thing that I have been working on is trying to find ways to show myself love and appreciation. Like many women I have a hard time saying “no” to people. I have a hard time saying “no” to myself regarding food. I found I eat for the same reason that I say “yes” to others. I want to feel loved and appreciated.

My involvement with Jennifer and our support group started almost 5 years ago. My weight loss has been anything but steady. I would lose for a while and then gain for a while and then lose for a while, sometimes gaining all that I had lost. The roller coaster has flattened out and my weight loss is more steady now that my focus is narrow.  I just focus on eating when I feel hungry and finding ways to feel loved and appreciated that don’t include food.” What an inspiration! Nice work LE!

Have you tried….Roasted Red Peppers?

Bell peppers originated in Mexico, Central and South America. They have been cultivated for >6,500 years. A red bell pepper is simply a mature green pepper. Bell peppers are the only pepper that do not contain capsaicin, which provides the heat. Roasted red peppers, are just that, roasted! High in vitamins A and C, they are a healthy addition to sauces, sandwiches, and so on. You can make your own, see the recipe below.

Hetzler, Paul (2018, April 4). The bell pepper, a vegetable history, Adirondack Almanac.


As human beings, we know we can be quite unfathomable creatures. Especially when we find ourselves feeling guilty about something we really didn’t want to do, but did anyway! A case in point is shopping. If I go to TJ Maxx, I end up buying things I never thought I needed, but decided I could not live without. Luckily, they have a return policy. Grocery shopping can tempt us to buy things we don’t need, and later don’t even want. But at the time we threw the barbeque chips in the cart, they looked awfully good!

It amazes me how we set ourselves up for failure. We blithely buy chocolate, chips, salty snacks and desserts, thinking we can resist them, as we carry them into the house. Having sugary and salty snacks in the house of an emotional eater is like having catnip in a house with a cat. We will not leave the treats alone, and the cat will be all over that catnip. Duh. Or “I buy this food for the grandkids”. Really? This is so elementary that it makes me roll my eyes (later) after talking with a patient. “So, there is a lot of junk food in the house?” “And you can’t stay away from it?” “Who buys the junk food?” “You? Ok….and you want to lose weight….let’s see…what about not buying that food in the first place?” Again, back to human nature.

In my small human mind, it seems to me that impulse buying is driven by emotions.  What if we shopped with, wait for it…. a grocery list? Make the list when you are not hungry or needy, but rational. Stick with said list. If you have to have a treat, drive back to the grocery store after you returned home and put everything away. Unless you are really desperate for those cookies, chances are you will not make a second trip. Please consider it.

The Best Medicine

“Did you know that Chuck Norris used to be a man trapped inside of a woman’s body? Then his mother gave birth”. I hope that made you laugh. I discovered something the other day that has been missing in my life this year. LAUGHTER. I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail recently. I smiled and laughed all the way through it. A silly, stupid but hilarious movie, highly recommended for the blues. I have thought about writing on humor previously, but didn’t. Well, I think it is desperately needed these days, especially when I realized how much I missed it. Even retelling some of the best bits of the movie to a coworker the next day made us giggle.

Why do we need laughter in our lives? There are several scientific reasons why it is so beneficial to us. It strengthens social connections. Telling someone a joke or watching a comedy together strengthens relationships. It releases endorphins which bind to opioid receptors, making us feel fantastic! It enhances brain connectivity. Different parts of the brain must communicate with each other to determine the type of laughter, such as mean-spirited or friendly. Just like exercise, laughter is a strong antidepressant. Serotonin is released in the brain, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter. Laughter is good for your heart. It is thought to achieve this by lowering stress hormones, which in turn lower blood pressure, blood clotting, blood sugar and inflammation. The immune system, digestion, and overall tension improve with regular laughter, science suggests. It even lowers the perception of pain.

What’s not to like?

Some of the funniest movies rated by various entities are below:

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Airplane
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Caddyshack
  • Groundhog Day
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  • Bridesmaids
  • Knives Out
  • The Heat

Disalvo, David (2017, June 5) Six science-based reasons why laughter is the best medicine. Forbes magazine.

Vedantam, Shankar (Host). (2020, September 28). Laughter: the best medicine [Audio podcast episode]. In Hidden Brain Podcast, NPR.

Griffin, Morgan (reviewed 2008, April 10) Give your body a boost--with laughter. WebMd.

In the Spirit of Giving

If you have enough food to eat consider yourself blessed. Our neighbors and friends may be grappling with a job loss or diminished hours, housing insecurity and illness due to the pandemic. According to Feeding America, 4.2 billion meals have been distributed from March through October this year to Americans. They estimate that 4 out of 5 food banks are assisting more people than they did a year ago. Many folks who have never visited a food pantry have done so this year. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people do not have enough food to eat, or around 17%, due to the pandemic. Frankly, I saw that figure several years ago, which makes me wonder if this number is too low. If your household is the 1 out of 6, you understand how precarious life can be. Hunger is not fun.

Please consider helping out your local food bank by volunteering your time, donating food or money. If you are struggling with hunger, please visit this website for local food pantries: There are 14 listed from Brigham City to Layton. You can also make a donation on this website. Let’s do the right thing.

Morello, Paul (2020, November 25). The food bank response to COVID, by the numbers. Feeding America.

Romesco Sauce

This sauce is one way to use roasted red peppers. The recipe originated from the Catalonia area in Spain. It is a simplified version with a wonderful flavor, easy to make and heart (and body) healthy. You can spread it on a turkey sandwich, use with fish, pasta, vegetables, what have you. You will need a food processor to prepare this recipe. I tweaked it, as most of the recipes used ½ cup of olive oil. It was fine with ¼ cup. Modified from recipes found at and

  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers, drained or 2-3 blistered and blackened bell peppers
  • ½ cup raw almonds or other nuts or seeds
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained, or ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil

If you can’t find roasted red peppers in a jar, you can make your own.

Using a gas burner, and a long fork or tongs, hold a red bell pepper over the flame, turning frequently until it blisters and blackens evenly. Place in a small paper bag to steam for 15 minutes. Repeat with two more bell peppers.

Place all ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil. Blend on low until well combined.

Gradually drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to blend, until it reaches your preferred consistency.

Serve with hot, drained pasta, or store in a mason jar in the refrigerator up to 10 days.

½ cup: 250 calories, contributes 100% of daily value for vitamin A and C

December Support Groups

Mondays, 2:00-3:00pm

Tuesdays, 4:30-5:30pm

Join us in person in the Heart Center Conference Room or via Webex. Download Webex to your phone, desk top, etc.

For Mondays, use this password:

38HWuJ3pChs, meeting # 145 779 2803

For Tuesdays, use this password:

8iW3GqtZ9Ud, meeting # 145 440 2353

You can join either support group with your phone, (415) 655-0001. Use the meeting # for the access code.

An email is appreciated if you plan to attend for the first time.

Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or sense of social hierarchy when you’re howling with laughter.
Laughter is a force for democracy.
John Cleese